Raimondo School Committee in Pawtucket: reconsider allowing students to return to class

PAWTUCKET, RI (WPRI) – Governor Gina Raimondo urges Pawtucket school committee to rethink its decision to ensure that most students in the district learn from a distance for the rest of the year.

“If you find yourself in a place where you deny your children face-to-face, high quality education, especially younger learners, I ask you, from the bottom of my heart, to reconsider,” she said. declared. during his weekly coronavirus briefing on Wednesday.

The committee’s decision means the majority of Pawtucket students will learn remotely for a year and a half, from March 2020 to September 2021, assuming school buildings reopen in the fall.

This is not the first time that Raimondo has criticized the city’s school officials. Last October, she expressed disappointment in the neighborhood, urging the school committee to “try a little harder”. His comments drew the wrath of the Pawtucket Teachers’ Alliance, who asked him to apologize for his comments.

The Pawtucket school committee has always said they don’t think it is safe for students to return to class, despite growing pressure from the state to do so.

“There are no studies on what reopening schools does when transmission rates are so high,” said Erin Dube, vice chair of the committee.

Last week, Rhode Island Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green wrote a letter to the committee describing how their concerns were handled by the state.

“I have done due diligence,” she said. “I responded to all concerns and expressed my position quite clearly. We need to have children in the classroom safely.

During Tuesday night’s meeting, Superintendent Cheryl McWilliams presented a potential plan to gradually allow students to return to class.

His plan would start with the return of Kindergarten to Grade 5 in February, followed by Grades 6 to 12 in March. But despite its recommendation, the committee voted unanimously for Grades 1 to 12 students to learn remotely.

Some parents don’t like the committee’s decision. Jennifer, who has two children in the school system who struggle with distance learning, told 12 News it “pissed her off”.

“It is unfair for our children in this city, for all children,” she added. “Our children are not being educated as they should. “

She asked the committee to reconsider its decision for the sake of the children in the district.

“I don’t want them to do it. I need it, ”she said.

Pawtucket Teachers’ Alliance President Ronald Beaupré believes the committee made the right decision.

“While we all agree that an in-person teaching model is the most effective, the safety and well-being of students and staff must be the top priority,” he said in a press release. “With this in mind, the Pawtucket School Department is committed to providing a model of distance learning that is both responsible and effective.”

While the Pawtucket Teachers’ Alliance applauded the move, Mayor Donald Grebien called it “worrying”.

“As leaders, we need to do better for our children and families to provide in-person learning where possible,” he said in a statement. “The superintendent had recommended a more substantial reopening plan that would allow all students the opportunity to return for an in-person apprenticeship. Additionally, RIDE has made it clear that they believe a more robust comeback is possible. “

Despite this, Grebien said he trusted the committee in its decision-making.

“I am a strong supporter of this committee and believe in their commitment to the youth of Pawtucket,” he said.

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